View Single Post
Old 30th October 2018, 20:44
Bruce Dennis Bruce Dennis is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: UK
Posts: 533
Bruce Dennis is on a distinguished road
Luftwaffe morale

"SECRET A.D.I.(K) Report No.157/1945

(August to December 1944)
1. This report is an endeavour to assess and analyse
Luftwaffe aircrew morale in the period of five months from
17th August 1944, on which date a similar assessment was made
in A.D.I.(K) 473/1944. The number of aircrew prisoners
interrogated for the present review, amounting to 246,
comprises the largest sample since 1940.
2. The majority of these prisoners have been tough and well
drilled in security; at no point did the proportion with high
morale fall lower than 51% and, as may be expected, the period
when it reached this lowest ebb was during the German
withdrawal in August. Since then, the proportion of high
morale amongst all aircrew has risen steadily until, in
December, it was found to stand at 64%, with day fighters even
higher at 74%.
3. It should be noted that the present report deals
throughout solely with aircrew morale and that ground
personnel are not taken into account. The morale of the ground
personnel, judging from recent samples, is just the same as it
has been for a long time bad.

4. The basis of G.A.F. morale remains very much the same as
before, and can be said to consist of a mixture of the
following factors: the natural discipline of nearly all
Germans, youth, love of flying, patriotism and a general
ignorance of the real facts of the war. It is true that
aircrew have very few amusements and almost no time off, but
they continue to live fairly well; in fact, better than any
other section of the population. They experience no hardship
comparable to that of the front-line soldier, and they receive
on the whole less bombing than either the army or the
5. Expectations and promises for the future play a large part
in maintaining morale and still continue to be believed. As
one fighter-pilot said: "In the autumn we were guaranteed
2,000 new fighters. They have turned up, and this makes me
prepared to believe that the other new weapons and aircraft
promised will also turn up". However small the "come back" of
the Luftwaffe might seem to the Allies, it has helped the
ordinary German pilot to believe that the inventors and
technicians still have the situation in hand. The promise of
large numbers of jet aircraft for the spring has had the same
6. Many, though a decreasing number, of the younger P/W still
profess belief in ultimate German victory, a belief which is
quite unconnected with any logical process of thought
whatever, but depends on what can only be termed as mystic
belief in German invincibility. This faith is no doubt
fostered by the good fight they are putting up in spite of the
enormous difficulties caused by bombing and the shortage of so
many necessities inside Germany.
7. It cannot be said there is much desperation in their
courage. Rather is it a quiet resignation to the fact that
they have no alternative to fighting on. Certainly the impetus
derived from fighting on German soil against unconditional
surrender helps to counteract strain and war weariness; but
although attempts have been wade by German propaganda to
instil a kind of "Battle of Britain" spirit, it is doubtful
whether it has succeeded.
8. One of the smaller props to morale has gradually been
upset. When the Luftwaffe was in its prime, outstanding aces
were carefully built up as heroic types, an example to others.
This hero-worship, to which the Germans are so addicted, was
encouraged to what we would consider an inordinate degree. But
by now most of the aces have been killed and others, like G
GALLAND and PELZ, no longer fly on operations and are even
accused of becoming out of touch with the operational
personnel. At the same time the camaraderie between officers
and men has become less.
9. The new appeal is based more on staple patriotism and fear
of the consequences of defeat. A frequent propaganda theme is:
"Life will not be worth living after the war". The horrific
picture of a conquered Germany, easily concocted by GOEBBELS
from unofficial Allied pronouncements, is well calculated to
make men fight to the bitter end.
10. Much greater than fear of defeat at the hands of Britain
and America is dread of Russia. "Sieg oder Sibirien" - Victory
or slavery in Siberia, is a slogan which has a considerable
effect, an effect not unconnected with a sense of guilt for
what Germany has done above all to the populations in the
East. Manly realise that such wrongs avenge themselves, but
nevertheless justify their conduct by persuading themselves
that they are upholding a higher civilisation.
11. Among aircrew less resentment of our bombing policy is
felt than might be expected. The destruction of so much of
both private and public property and fine cities, however, not
to mention the casualties involved, helps to foster a certain
feeling of futility about the future, and even a wish to
escape it. Thus in some ways continued resistance is a
putting-off of an evil day - with the small, but to them
worthwhile chance that the Allies might quarrel, the German
technicians produce a trump, and defeat might be avoided in a
triumph of defensive warfare.

12. The three tables presented below show morale at time of
capture; the assessments are those made by the original
interrogators on the Continent, and differ slightly - almost
always for the better - from the assessments given at the end
of A.D.I.(K) reports in which allowance is not always made for
the weaknesses which develop under prolonged interrogation and
in the isolation of theme from the sustaining effect of his
(a) Period August November 1944.
August Morale.
Type of Unit. No. of P/W High. Fair. Low.
Bomber 22 12=55% 6=27% 4=18%
Day Fighter 14 6=42% 6=42% 2=16%
Others 7 4 -
Total 43 22=51% 15=35% 6=14%
Average age - 23.3 years.
September - November Morale.
Type of Unit. No. of P/W High. Fair. Low.
Bomber and
transport 18
11=61% 2=11% 5=28%
Day Fighter 10 7=70% 2=20% 1=10%
Night Fighter
and N.S.G. 15 8=54% 2=13% 5=33%
Others 2 2 - -
Total 45 28=62% 6=13.5% 11=24.5%
Average age - 23.3 years.
+ This figure includes the only bomber crew captured
between 16th August and 18th December; this crew comprised
the three survivors of a V-1 launching He.111 which
ditched in the North Sea on 6th October.
Notes on the above Tables.
(1) Even in the catastrophic days of August, 51% of the
Luftwaffe aircrew captured showed good morale, and of the
rest 35% could be said to have fair morale.
2) Although the sample is too small to be satisfactory,
it is perhaps significant that the morale of the crews of
heavy aircraft retrained steadier than that of the fighter
pilots which, however, recovered more quickly.
(3) The absence of any marked defeatism in the Luftwaffe
directly after the attempted Putsch of 20th July and the
catastrophe in France indicates the extent to which its
personnel are imbued not only with a sound fighting spirit
but with esprit de corps. Though of an age which has only
known a Nazi upbringing, flying personnel of the G.A.F. are
not very politically minded. Loyalty to the regime which has
done them personally no apparent harm, and which has often
benefited them, is strong, as there is no substantial
(4) The fact that there was a virtual debacle in the air
at the same time certainly had a depressing effect, but
there was always the excuse of overwhelming superiority on
the Allied side. Furthermore, promises were made that a
great new fighter force would be formed and a new training,
programme was put in motion. It was believed by many that
the new jet-propelled aircraft would enable the Luftwaffe to
make a startling come-back with qualitative superiority. In
fact the 0.K.L. reacted to the new situation with vigour
which gave a new hope to a depressed but eager-body of young
airmen; whose mental horizon is as limited by flying as it
is by propaganda and education.
(b) Period December 1st 1944 - January 1st 1945.
14. By the end of November 1944 it seems that the German Air
Staff considered that the Luftwaffe had been sufficiently
nursed back to health to be employed on a large scale in
tactical support of the Army. At the same time, in the absence
of an adequate bombing force, night-fighters were sent in
considerable numbers in an attempt to cause dislocation over
the Allied lines at night. The result has been the largest
batch of aircrew prisoners, since the Battle of Britain.
15. The morale of the 158 P/W, assessed as before at time of
capture, is analysed as follows:-
State of morale
Type of unit N of
High Fair Low Average
Day Fighter 80 59=74,5% 14=17% 7=9% 22.9yrs
Night Fighter 54 28=52% 19=35% 7=13%
Others, incl.
and recce crews
24 14=58% 8=33.5% 2=8.5% 23.2yrs
Total 158 101=64.6% 41=26.5% 16=10% 23.0yrs
Notes on the above Table
(1) The over-all improvement in morale seems very slight
against the previous three months. This steadiness is in
contrast to the fluctuation noticed in 1943 during the same
period, i.e. between the low point reached with the
landings in Italy and the defection of BADOGLIO, and the
recovery connected with the bogging-down in Italy and the
beginning of reprisal raids on England. Unfortunately the
method of assessment was not identical with the present one
and the samples much smaller but it is interesting to note
that in the period September to mid-November 1943 the
percentages of high, fair and low morale were found to be
61% 31% and 5%, while in the period mid-November to January
1944 they were 83%, 17% and nil.
(2) The only marked improvement is among day fighter
pilots, whose morale has jumped from 42% high in August to
74% high in December. This has been due (a) to careful
husbanding of strength for a big effort. (b) the
maintenance of the fighter aircraft industry in spite of
Allied bombing and (c) the successful defence of the
frontiers of the Reich.
(3) While these three factors also apply to the whole of
the Reich defence force, the morale of one branch, the
night-fighters, has noticeably declined although they are
better trained and more strictly selected, and not long ago
were the most steadily successful part of the Luftwaffe,
they show an inferior spirit to the day-fighters. One
reason for this is that they have an increasing sense of
frustration, caused by jarring of signals channels and
interception equipment and frequent failure owing to
"spoofery" to contact bombers at all. They also show a high
level of intelligence, which does not help morale. They may
fly blind, but they think less blindly about the war.
(4) The majority of these P/W were captured during the
RUNDSTEDT offensive and before they were plainly aware of
its failure. That it could be launched at all gave, a
certain fillip to morale.
(5) The fighter unit showing the most consistently good
morale is J.G.4, with J.G.2 coming second.
(6) It would be wrong to consider all those with morale
assessed as fair to be only fair fighting material. In a
unit with a high spirit - which applies to most - they
would be carried along with the majority, and would hardly
be aware themselves of the chinks in their armour.
(7) Fewer P/W are found to have listened to Allied
broadcast propaganda than at any time during the last 18
months. This is partly due to the fact that most are
fighter pilots, as opposed to bomber crews as in the past,
and live in less permanent quarters, and partly because
morale itself is higher.

16. Interrogators on the Continent who see P/W in the first
days after their capture have found them extremely tough
almost without exception. In so far as the time taken to break
down a man's security is an indication of his fighting spirit
and not of improved security instruction, morale is higher
than it has been for some time. It is, however, not so deeply
ingrained. P/W to-day are not only slightly younger than in
the past, but each time they come from a later age-group. This
means they are more unformed. Fewer are intelligent and more
are bone-headed, and the eventual undermining of security, and
later of morale, is made easier by this fact. With them
security is often merely an induced state with automatic
reactions rather than intelligent attempt to continue fighting
although a prisoner or war. Once it breaks they tend to talk
freely. This applies chiefly to N.C.O.'s and other ranks.
17. With most younger officers the basis of the high morale is
somewhat different. They attempt to explain their professed
faith in victory, which for them amounts to avoiding defeat,
on the score of superior fighting ability, V-weapons etc. But
they also tend to be less fact-proof and easier to reach with
argument, though only with much time and trouble. Older or
senior officers, who know more facts, are nearly always
prepared to admit that Germany has lost the war, but their
discipline and sense of responsibility clearly keeps them from
showing any defeatist spirit to the men under their command.
18. It is nevertheless startling to find how different is the
attitude of most P/W after a week or so of being moved from
place to place and being interrogated. During this time they
learn with their own eyes or from the people they meet a great
many unlightening facts and some truths; they have time to
reflect on the tremendous material superiority of the Allies
which they see behind our lines; if they happen to pass
through London, this especially brings home to them the
swindle of their own propaganda.
19. The young generation in Germany has so long been denied
the possibility of finding out the other mans point of view
that when he gets the chance of doing so he frequently
discovers he cannot answer it. This is a weakness of which
interrogators have learnt to take advantage. If a patient and
serious attempt is made to open a P/W's eyes to the facts he
has been denied, for him the GOEBBELS machine begins to
operate in reverse.
20. This very susceptibility of Germans to propaganda might
suggest that their re-education after the war may not be so
difficult, but it should be remembered that the interrogators
achieve little more than a rather static "deconditioning and
with the assistance of depressing circumstances. Any eventual
"reconditioning" must depend on a new dynamic of ideals, and
social and political loyalties, which are at present all too
painfully absent.

21. It would seem that since morale is not built on reason,
but on blind faith, loyalty and patriotism, it will only break
down when facts or a conflict of ideas, successfully undermine
the original basis. In so far as these destructive influences
operate at all in the field, the whole of German propaganda is
working, not unsuccessfully, to exclude them. As a result
aircrew on capture continue to show good fighting spirit.
22. Morale did not slump seriously during the disastrous days
of the summer, and does not become unduly depressed by failure
or heavy losses, or even as a result of land reverses. This
suggests the conclusion that taking flying personnel in the
Luftwaffe as a whole, morale will not break as long as they
have aircraft and petrol, the army continues to resist, and
they themselves are told to go on fighting.
U.S. Air Interrogation. S.D. Felkin,
8th February 1945 Wing Commander"
Reply With Quote